Every now and then, Mattias Ohlund admitted, he ponders the possibility his career might be over.

But then Ohlund remembers how it is "truly a blessing" to be a pro hockey player, and the Lightning defenseman, who in February had major surgery on his left knee in an attempt to save his career, gets back to the brutal task of rehabilitating the joint.

"I have to, for my own peace of mind, give myself a chance to do this," Ohlund said. "I'd like to play again. I don't know if it's going to happen, but I hope so."

It has been 11 weeks since Ohlund's surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, where a layer of titanium resurfaced Ohlund's femur at the joint behind his kneecap, called the patellofemoral.

That created a cushion where cartilage that usually covers the bone had flaked away, causing bone-on-bone rubbing so painful it forced Ohlund, 35, to miss last season and has kept him off skates since mid November.